Department keeps a close eye on Sealand Express

Aug 21, 2003
Author: P&S

The Director General of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Dr Crispian Olver today, Thursday, 21 August 2003, visited the scene of the Sea-Land Express and assured members of the public especially around the Table Bay area, where the Sea-Land went aground, that the department is taking all necessary steps to monitor and prevent any negative environmental impact that may arise from the incident.

"We have since appointed a departmental response team to deal with any environmental issues or interests following the Sea-Land Express incident", said Dr Olver. Ms Gail Khumalo, from the Marine and Coastal Management branch of the department, heads the response team, which has
been on site since the incident occurred.

Several meetings have been held with all the role-players yesterday and today to establish the circumstances and strategies to further deal with the incident. Following some concerns from the public and other stakeholders, the department has requested the owners of the vessel to provide all information relating to the cargo of the vessel.

"Whilst the salvor and SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) is in full control of the operation to re-float the Sealand Express, it is important that the department has full and complete access to information relating to the cargo of the vessel to prepare for any eventuality which might impact negatively on the environment", said Dr Olver.

The Director-General was adamant that failure to disclose such information would lead to his department taking stronger action against the owners of the vessels.

"Should the requested information not be forthcoming, the Department will consider taking such steps as may be necessary to obtain the information including the possible arrest of the vessel", he said.

He reiterated that the department would not hesitate to take such steps as may be necessary to protect the environment. The response team of the department will remain on the scene until such time that safety is guaranteed in the area.

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